We need to start talking about inequality again; we need to start talking about the inequities and unfairnesses and the injustices of an excessively divided society, divided by wealth, by opportunity, by outcome, by assets and so forth.
I started work on my first French history book in 1969; on ‘Socialism in Provence’ in 1974; and on the essays in Marxism and the French Left in 1978. Conversely, my first non-academic publication, a review in the ‘TLS’, did not come until the late 1980s, and it was not until 1993 that I published my first piece in the ‘New York Review.’
I see myself as, first and above all, a teacher of history; next, a writer of European history; next, a commentator on European affairs; next, a public intellectual voice within the American left; and only then an occasional, opportunistic participant in the pained American discussion of the Jewish matter.
Those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good plays, good company, good conversation – what are they? They are the happiest people in the world.
If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible.
If at first you don’t succeed, find out if the loser gets anything.
We also learn that this country and the Western world have no monopoly of goodness and truth and scholarship, we begin to appreciate the ingredients that are indispensable to making a better world. In a life of learning that is, perhaps, the greatest lesson of all.
You can learn more about human nature by reading the Bible than by living in New York.
Popularizing – much less venturing beyond one’s secure turf – was frowned upon for many years. I think I probably internalized the prohibition, even though I was – and knew I was – among the best speakers and writers of my age cohort. I don’t mean I was the best historian – a quite different measure.